Pentagon No. 2 focused on fiscal accountability

By Tony Bertuca / March 29, 2018 at 5:26 PM

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said today the Pentagon is focused on ensuring accountability in how it spends the additional $80 billion Congress just provided in a fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill.

"We expect a year from now, Congress will ask us for a receipt," he said. "Pretty straightforward."

Shanahan, who spoke at an event hosted by the Center for New American Security in Washington, said he and a team of senior DOD officials are concentrating on executing the additional funds Congress provided the department to address ongoing readiness shortfalls in training and equipment.

Other priorities include "de-risking" and modernizing the Pentagon's signature weapon systems.

"It means make sure that we execute flawlessly," he said. "We want to complete those and we want to deliver ahead of schedule or under budget. Our real focus is how do we accelerate modernization. The modernization -- how do you get those good ideas to scale."

Shanahan is currently crafting a DOD modernization strategy with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord and Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin. The strategy is expected to support new investments in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, hypersonics, directed energy and data analytics.

Shanahan also said Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist will be focusing more on managerial accountability as DOD's chief financial officer.

"We're going to take comptroller off his business card and we're going to make him the CFO," Shanahan said. "Because we're less interested in how well he expends the money -- we want him to be focused on what are we getting for it. We need somebody who can hold the people that spend the money accountable for the results. David's jacked up about getting a new job title."

Officially, Norquist's title already includes "chief financial officer," and his spokesman said there has been no change.

Shanahan also said David Deasy, the former chief information officer at JP Morgan Chase, will be joining DOD to work on the department's information technology challenges.

"He managed 43,000 IT professionals," Shanahan said. "He'll be joining us the first part of May."

Shanahan did not say whether Deasy would be tapped to be the department's new CIO and the Pentagon was unable to provide an immediate answer.